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Peder Hansen

As told to his great granddaughter, Sitka Polk by her father John Polk, Peder's grandson

My father's grandfather Peder Hansen was an officer in the Danish calvary. When the Nazi Germans invaded Denmark, Peder escaped by a fishing boat and joined the British army. Peder trained to be in the Special Forces where he had to learn how to kill rapidly with all kinds of weapons, and also with his hands. He learned how to jump out of planes with parachutes.

Because he spoke 7 languages, he became a spy when special force training was over. It was his job to retrieve British pilots from Nazi German and Italian occupied countries. When a pilot was shot down in Germany, and if the Allies knew where the plane had been shot down, they would send Peder by submarine or airplane across the English Channel and into Germany to retrieve the pilots. When he got there, he would have to hike or steal a car to a village nearby the crash site, then he would have to make contact with the other spies in the village; usually a password was used. If the spies managed to hide the pilot, Pederwould help him escape across Germany through France or the Netherlands to a pre-arranged pick-up spot along the coast. There they would be picked up and taken back to England, usually by fishing boat.

While Peder was training in England, he made friends with an English pilot. He spent his leaves with the pilot and his family in the country. He also fell in love with the pilot's sister; the three were good buddies. They would travel around England hiking and dancing together.

On one of these leaves, the pilot was called back for a secret and dangerous mission; during the flight he was shot down over Germany. No one was sure if he was dead or alive. Peder volunteered to go in Germany to rescue him. It was a very dangerous mission as the area was full of Nazi German troops. Peder was flown over a small village where he hoped to find the pilot, and he parachuted down into it. He contacted the other spies, and found out his friend was alive but in a German jail.

That night, Peder broke into the jail, overpowered two of the guards, and released his friend. However, as they ran from the jail, a guard shot the pilot in the arm. Peder managed to drag him off, and found medical help for the wound. The wound was very large and severe, and made the travel slow. Peder and the pilot escaped towards the coast, but after a week of travelling, the pilot's wound became gangrenous and very infected.. Peder had to strap him to his back and carry him to the coast.

Finally Peder could go no more, and his friend was in death throes. Just before his brave friend died, he told Peder he had nothing to give him to remember him by except for his leather vest. Peder cherished it all his life. Before he died, he passed it on to my father John, who still has it and wears it to this day.

My father, wearing the leather vest, carries my older sister.


Veterans Affairs Canada
Air Force Association of Canada
Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada
Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
The War Amps of Canada
The Royal Canadian Legion
RCAF 424
102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion
85th Canadian Infantry Battalion - Nova Scotia Highlanders
South Saskatchewan Regiment
The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment of Canada
422 Squadron R.C.A.F.